A Saudi Magazine’s Enthusiastic Report on Arabs in the IDF

July 27 2022

A recent article in the Saudi Arabian monthly Al Majalla—which appeared in both the Arabic- and English-language editions—observes the rising number of Druze, Christian, and Muslim Israelis who choose to enlist in their country’s military. Drawing on interviews with several such men and women, the author, Suzan Quitaz, writes:

“Why did I decide to enlist?” asks Sergeant Sami Heib, a twenty-year-old Bedouin who has been with the IDF over two years, “Because this is my homeland, I am part of this country, and I want to contribute.” He continued, saying that “many relatives of mine already serve in the IDF and my parents support my decision and are very proud of me.” He told Al Majalla that the IDF made him feel at home.

The coronavirus crisis did play a significant role in helping the IDF to gain more recruits and to be perceived differently by the Arab public in Israel. [A senior IDF officer from the manpower directorate] explains why: “During the pandemic, IDF soldiers were deployed to deliver food and medicine to elderly and sick people. They took part in the coronavirus awareness campaigns and later helped with setting up vaccine centers and so on. . . . You can say the fear factor was broken, as people were able to see with their own eyes how tirelessly the IDF was working to look after all residents of Israel.”

After quoting several Arab enlistees enthusiastic about their service—including the first Muslim woman to attain the rank of major in the IDF—the article cites the disapproval of the Arab Knesset member Hanin Zoabi, who claims that Arabs only join because they “are poor and have no work.” Quitaz is not convinced:

Al Majalla asked Hassan Kaabia to comment on MK Zoabi’s assertion. Kaabia is an Israeli Arab and a former lieutenant colonel who served in the IDF for over two decades and currently works as the spokesman for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This is what he had to say: “The IDF is the only institution where there is no discrimination and there is total equality and inclusion. It is not true that they are joining because of economic factors. The majority of Israeli Arabs who join the army are doing it because of one reason and that is they want to be part of the state.”

Mr. Kaabia’s son, Captain Asaf, decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and joined the IDF a few years ago. MK Zoabi’s argument about only “poor men with no jobs” gets even thinner when you consider that Mohammed Zoabi, her very close relative, joined the IDF.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Al Majalla

More about: Druze, IDF, Israeli Arabs, Saudi Arabia

Why Is Iran Acquiring Property in Venezuela?

In June Tehran and Caracas concluded a major twenty-year cooperation treaty. One of its many provisions—kept secret until recently—was the transfer of 4,000 square miles of Venezuelan land to Iranian control. Although the territory is ostensibly for agricultural use, Lawrence Franklin suspects the Islamic Republic might have other plans:

Hizballah already runs paramilitary training centers in restricted sections of Venezuela’s Margarita Island, a tourist area northeast of the country’s mainland. The terrorist group has considerable support from some of Venezuela’s prominent Lebanese clans such as the Nasr al-Din family, who reportedly facilitated Iran’s penetration of Margarita Island. . . . The Maduro regime has apparently been so welcoming to Iranian intelligence agents that some of Hizballah’s long-established Latin American network at the tri-border nexus of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay has been overtaken by Hizballah activities on Venezuela’s Margarita Island.

Iran’s alliance with Venezuela most importantly provides Tehran with opportunities to target U.S. interests in Latin America and potentially the southern United States. Iran, along with the Chinese Communist Party, is in the process of strengthening Venezuela’s military against the U.S., for instance by deliveries of military drones, which are also considered a threat by Colombia.

While air and seaborne arms deliveries are high-profile evidence of Iran’s ties with Venezuela, Tehran’s cooperation with Venezuelan intelligence agencies, although less visible, is also intense. The Islamic Republic’s support for Hizballah terrorist operations is pervasive throughout Latin America. Hizballah recruits from Venezuela’s ten-million-strong Lebanese diaspora. Iran and Hizballah cooperate in training of intelligence agents and in developing sources who reside in Venezuela and Colombia, as well as in the tri-border region of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Gatestone

More about: Iran, Latin America, Venezuela